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sentions. But it is in the 'First Part of the Contention' that they are carried forward to a catastrophe. Let us compare portions of the scene in the parliament-house, in the First Part of Henry VI., and the scene at St. Alban's in the First Part of the Contention :'
FIRST PART OF HENRY VI., ACT III., Sc. I. "Win. Com'st thou with deep premeditated lines, With written pamphlets studiously devis'd, Humphrey of Gloster? if thou canst accuse, Or aught intend'st to lay unto my charge, Do it without invention suddenly; As I with sudden and extemporal speech Purpose to answer what thou canst object.
Glo. Presumptuous priest this place commands
Or thou should'st find thou hast dishonour'd me.
Win. Gloster, I do defy thee. Lords, vouchsafe To give me hearing what I shall reply.
If I were covetous, ambitious, or perverse,
As he will have me, how am I so poor?
Or raise myself, but keep my wonted calling?
Thou bastard of my grandfather!—
FIRST PART OF THE CONTENTION, Act II., Sc. 1. “Suf. My lord protector's hawks do tower so well; They know their master soars a falcon's pitch. Hum. Faith, my lord, it 's but a base mind That soars no higher than a bird can soar.
Card. I thought your grace would be above the clouds.
Hum. Ay, my lord cardinal, were it not good Your grace could fly to heaven?
Card. Thy heaven is on earth, thy words and
Beat on a crown, proud protector, dangerous peer,
Hum. How now, my lord? why this is more than needs!
Churchmen so hot? Good uncle, can you do 't?
Hum. As how, my lord?
Suf. As you, my lord, and 't like your lordly lord's protectorship.
Hum. Why, Suffolk, England knows thy insolence. Queen. And thy ambition, Gloster.
King. Cease, gentle queen,
And whet not on these furious lords to wrath,
Card. Let me blessed for the peace I make
Card. Even when thou dar`st.
Hum. Dare? I tell thee, priest,
Plantagenets could never brook the dare.
Card. I am Plantagenet as well as thou,
And son to John of Gaunt,
Hum. In bastardy.
Card. I scorn thy words.
Hum. Make up no factious numbers,
But even in thine own person meet me at the east end of the grove.
Card. Here's my hand, I will.
King. Why, how now, lords?
Card. Faith, cousin Gloster,
Had not your man cast off so soon, we had had
More sport to-day. Come with thy sword and buck
Hum. God's mother, priest, I'll shave your crown. Card. Protector, protect thyself well."
Is there or is there not unity of action in these scenes of two different plays? Is there not unity of characterization? Is there not identity of manner? The angry passions which, in the First Part of Henry VI., are unrestrained even by the immediate presence of funereal solemnity, are only terminated in the 'First Part of the Contention' by the murder of Gloster and the terrible deathbed of Beaufort.
In the mean while, nourished by these dissentions, a fiercer contest is about to begin, whose catastrophe is far distant. The scene in the Temple-garden of the First Part of Henry VI. is the cloud before the storm. Connected with the future conduct of the story, it is thrown thus early into the series of plays with wonderful dramatic skill. Standing by itself it has no issue but in the quarrel of Vernon and Bassett in the fourth act. With the same dramatic skill, with reference to a continuation, is the early scene between Plantagenet and Mortimer. The object of the poet in the introduction of these scenes is most emphatically marked in several presaging passages of this play. At the close of the Temple-garden scene Warwick thus exclaims:
"And here I prophesy,-This brawl to-day,
Grown to this faction, in the Temple garden,
After Henry has taken his pacific course in the quarrel between Vernon and Bassett, Exeter leads us onward to some undeveloped result of the fearful tragedy to which these quarrels are but the prologue :
"Well didst thou, Richard, to suppress thy voice:
For had the passions of thy heart burst out,
I fear we should have seen decipher'd there
More rancorous spite, more furious raging broils,
Than yet can be imagin'd or suppos'd.
But howsoe'er, no simple man that sees
This jarring discord of nobility,
This should'ring of each other in the court,
This factious bandying of their favourites,
But that it doth presage some ill event.
"T is much, when sceptres are in children's hands:
There comes the ruin, there begins confusion."
The speech of York in the first scene of the 'First Part of the Contention' knits all these circumstances together, linking that play and the preceding one as closely as if the action had been continued without any division of the entire drama into separate portions:—
"Anjou and Maine both given unto the French!
Cold news for me, for I had hope of France,
Even as I have of fertile England.
A day will come when York shall claim his own,
And therefore I will take the Nevils' parts,
And make a show of love to proud duke Humphrey :
And, when I spy advantage, claim the crown,
For that's the golden mark I seek to hit;
Nor shall proud Lancaster usurp my right,
Nor hold the sceptre in his childish fist,
Nor wear the diadem upon his head,
Whose church-like humours fit not for a crown.
Then, York, be still awhile till time do serve:
Watch thou, and wake, when others be asleep,
To pry into the secrets of the state,
Till Henry, surfeiting in joys of love,
With his new bride and England's dear-bought queen,
And Humphrey with the peers be fall'n at jars ;
And, force perforce, I'll make him yield the crown,
Whose bookish rule hath pull'd fair England down."
The connexion which we have thus endeavoured to establish between the First Part of Henry VI. and the First Part of the Contention' had been already briefly noticed by Dr. Johnson:-"It is apparent that this play (Henry VI., Part II.) begins where the former ends, and continues the series of transactions of which it presupposes the first part already known. This is a sufficient proof that the Second and Third Parts were not written without dependence on the First, though they were printed as containing a complete period of history." To this, Malone thus replies :-" Dr. Johnson observes very justly that these two Parts were not written without a dependence on the First. Undoubtedly not: the old play of King Henry VI. (or, as it is now called, the First Part) certainly had been exhibited before these were written in any form. But it does not follow from this concession, either that the 'Contention of the Two Houses,' &c., in two parts, was written by the author of the former play, or that Shakspeare was the author of these two pieces as they originally appeared." This, to our minds, is an evasion, and not an answer. If the author of the two Parts of the 'Contention' had merely taken up the thread of the story where it is dropped in the First Part of Henry VI., we should have had no proof that the three plays were written by one and the same author. But not only does the author of the 'Contention' continue the story, with perfect unity of action, of character, and of manner, but the author of the First Part of Henry VI. has written entire scenes for the express purpose of continuation,-scenes incomplete in themselves, and excrescences upon his drama if it is to be regarded as a whole. We have shown these points, we trust, with sufficient distinctness. Upon the identity of manner we have the less dwelt, because, in the versification especially, each of the plays is admitted by Malone to be constructed upon the same model.* And what then has Malone to urge against the dependence, the unity of action, the identity of characterization, the similarity of manner, which all prove, as far as such a subject is capable of internal proof, that the First Part of Henry VI. and the two Parts of the Contention' were written by one and the same man, whoever he be? We will endeavour to state his argument with becoming gravity:-1st. The author of the First Part of Henry VI. does not seem to have known how old Henry VI. was at the time of his father's death. In the fourth act he makes the king say, speaking
"When I was young (as yet I am not old),
I do remember how my father said,
A stouter champion never handled sword."
Shakspere, it appears from a passage introduced by him in the revised copy of the Second Part of Henry VI., did know that Henry VI. could not have remembered what his father said; and therefore he could not have been the author of the First Part of Henry VI. But in the Second Part of the Contention' there is an evidence of similar knowledge by the author of that play
"When I was crown'd I was but nine months old;"
and this is a "decisive proof" that the two plays could not have been written by the same person. 2nd. The First Part of Henry VI. exhibits Mortimer dying in the Tower a state prisoner. The First Part of the Contention' makes Salisbury say that Owen Glendower "Kept him in captivity till he died.”
* 'Dissertation,' p. 564, Boswell's edition.
Furthermore, the First Part of Henry VI. correctly states the issue of Edward III., and the title of Mortimer to the crown; whereas the First Part of the Contention' incorrectly states these circumstances. This is literally the whole of Malone's evidence in proof of his assertion; and he thus triumphantly concludes: "Those two plays, therefore, could not have been the work of one hand." It is scarcely necessary to attempt a reply. All readers of Shakspere are perfectly aware of the occurrence of such slight inaccuracies, even in the same play. In the First Part of Henry VI. Malone himself points out that Winchester is called “cardinal" in the first act; while in the fifth act surprise is expressed that he is “call'd unto a cardinal's degree." According to this reasoning, therefore, the fifth act could not have been the work of the same hand as that which produced the first act. The First Part of Henry VI., we see, states correctly the title of Mortimer to the crown; the next play of the series states it incorrectly. But the argument may be carried a step further. The First Part of Henry IV. mistakes even the person of this Mortimer, confounding the Earl of March, a child, with Hotspur's brother-in-law. Shakspere wrote the First Part of Henry IV., but according to Malone he did not write either of the older plays in which we find correct and incorrect genealogy. But if the argument is to be pursued to its conclusion, he did write the 'First Part of the Contention,' which is inaccurate in this particular, because he did write the First Part of Henry IV., which is also inaccurate. One more example of the fallacy of such reasoning. In the Richard II., after the King has been deposed-after Bolingbroke has said,
"In God's name, I'll ascend the regal throne,”—
Richard thus addresses Northumberland :
"Northumberland, thou ladder wherewithal
The mounting Bolingbroke ascends my throne."
There was no one present but Richard, the Queen, and Northumberland. course, wrote the Richard II. But in the Second Part of Henry IV., Bolingbroke, then king, uses these words, speaking to Warwick:
"But which of you was by,
(You, cousin Nevil, as I may remember,)
Here are two important differences. When the words were spoken " cousin Nevil" was not by; and before the words were spoken Henry had actually ascended the throne, instead of having "no such intent." Upon Malone's argument, then, these extraordinary contradictions furnish " a decisive proof" that the Richard II. and the Second Part of Henry IV. "could not have been the work of one hand." Which shall we give up?
THE line of inquiry which we have pursued up to this point, with reference to the question whether the First Part of Henry VI. and the two Parts of the Contention' were written by one and the same person, we shall now follow up by a parallel course of inquiry whether these three plays were written by the author of Richard III. And here we may pause for a moment to observe that the argument upon which Shakspere has been held, in England, during the last fifty years, to be one of the most unblushing plagiarists that ever put pen to paper, has been conducted throughout in a spirit of disingenuousness almost unequalled in literary history. Malone, indeed, cannot be accused, as Lauder was, of having falsified quotations, or invented passages that had no existence; but he is certainly open to the charge of having suppressed minute facts with which he must have been perfectly acquainted, because they made against his theory. Of these hereafter. We impute not to his dishonesty, but to the weakness of his intellectual grasp, that it never occurred to him to institute a comparison between the two Parts of the Contention'-we mean the original plays, and not the remodelled ones— and the Richard III. of Shakspere. He chose to isolate the two Parts of the Contention' from the play which preceded them and the play which followed them. By this process he was disencumbered from the troublesome necessity-fatal, as we think, to his theory-of looking at the four plays as one great whole- one drama of four parts. The Richard III. stands at the end of the series as the avowed completion of that long tragic history. The scenes of that drama are as intimately blended with the previous scenes of the other dramas, as the scenes that belong to the separate dramas are blended amongst themselves. Its story not only naturally grows out of the previous story,-its characters are not only, wherever possible, the same characters as in the preceding dramas,—but it is even more palpably linked with them by constant retrospection to the events which they had exhibited. If Malone could have shown by his array of figures, his enumeration of original lines, of lines altered, and lines added,―that the resemblances between the Richard III. and the two previous plays had been confined to the passages which are not found in the original copies of those plays, or even if he could have established that there was a more marked similarity in the passages added,― he would probably have rendered the present essay perfectly unnecessary. But he has not even made the attempt to compare together, in the slightest manner, the work which he alleges to be spurious and the work which all men hold to be genuine. Let us endeavour to supply the omission.
The dramas which we now propose to compare are the First and Second Parts of the 'Contention,' as printed by us in this edition, and the Richard III. as given in our own text. In any incidental notice of the First Part of Henry VI. we shall now assume that it is written by the author of the two Parts of the 'Contention.'
There is a remarkable link between the first of this series of plays and the last, in the continuance of Margaret of Anjou upon the scene, almost to the conclusion of Richard III.
There are passages in the folio edition which are not found in the quartos; and many lines of the quartos have been re-modelled. But these minute differences are not important in the present inquiry.